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1.  Base pair opening kinetics study of the aegPNA:DNA hydrid duplex containing a site-specific GNA-like chiral PNA monomer 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;39(16):7329-7335.
Peptide nucleic acids (PNA) are one of the most widely used synthetic DNA mimics where the four bases are attached to a N-(2-aminoethyl)glycine (aeg) backbone instead of the negative-charged phosphate backbone in DNA. We have developed a chimeric PNA (chiPNA), in which a chiral GNA-like γ3T monomer is incorporated into aegPNA backbone. The base pair opening kinetics of the aegPNA:DNA and chiPNA:DNA hybrid duplexes were studied by NMR hydrogen exchange experiments. This study revealed that the aegPNA:DNA hybrid is much more stable duplex and is less dynamic compared to DNA duplex, meaning that base pairs are opened and reclosed much more slowly. The site-specific incorporation of γ3T monomer in the aegPNA:DNA hybrid can destabilize a specific base pair and its neighbors, maintaining the thermal stabilities and dynamic properties of other base pairs. Our hydrogen exchange study firstly revealed the unique kinetic features of base pairs in the aegPNA:DNA and chiPNA:DNA hybrids, which will provide an insight into the development of methodology for specific DNA recognition using PNA fragments.
PMCID: PMC3167616  PMID: 21586589
2.  Synthesis and evaluation of some properties of chimeric oligomers containing PNA and phosphono-PNA residues. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1998;26(2):566-575.
In an attempt to improve physico-chemical and biological properties of peptide nucleic acids (PNAs), particularly water solubility and cellular uptake, the synthesis of chimeric oligomers consisted of PNA and phosphono-PNA analogues (pPNAs) bearing the four natural nucleobases has been accomplished. To produce these chimeras, pPNA monomers of two types containing N-(2-hydroxyethyl)phosphonoglycine, or N-(2-aminoethyl)phosphonoglycine backbone, were used in conjunction with PNA monomers representing derivatives of N-(2-aminoethyl)glycine, or N-(2-hydroxyethyl)glycine. The oligomers obtained were composed of either PNA and pPNA stretches or alternating PNA and pPNA monomers. The examination of hybridization properties of PNA-pPNA chimeras to DNA and RNA complementary strands in comparison with pure PNAs, and pPNAs as well as DNA-pPNA hybrids and DNA fragments confirmed that these chimeras form stable complexes with complementary DNA and RNA fragments. They were found to be resistant to degradation by nucleases. All these properties together with good solubility in water make PNA-pPNA hybrids promising for further evaluation as potential therapeutic agents.
PMCID: PMC147292  PMID: 9421517
3.  Incorporation of thio-pseudoisocytosine into triplex-forming peptide nucleic acids for enhanced recognition of RNA duplexes 
Nucleic Acids Research  2014;42(6):4008-4018.
Peptide nucleic acids (PNAs) have been developed for applications in biotechnology and therapeutics. There is great potential in the development of chemically modified PNAs or other triplex-forming ligands that selectively bind to RNA duplexes, but not single-stranded regions, at near-physiological conditions. Here, we report on a convenient synthesis route to a modified PNA monomer, thio-pseudoisocytosine (L), and binding studies of PNAs incorporating the monomer L. Thermal melting and gel electrophoresis studies reveal that L-incorporated 8-mer PNAs have superior affinity and specificity in recognizing the duplex region of a model RNA hairpin to form a pyrimidine motif major-groove RNA2–PNA triplex, without appreciable binding to single-stranded regions to form an RNA–PNA duplex or, via strand invasion, forming an RNA–PNA2 triplex at near-physiological buffer condition. In addition, an L-incorporated 8-mer PNA shows essentially no binding to single-stranded or double-stranded DNA. Furthermore, an L-modified 6-mer PNA, but not pseudoisocytosine (J) modified or unmodified PNA, binds to the HIV-1 programmed −1 ribosomal frameshift stimulatory RNA hairpin at near-physiological buffer conditions. The stabilization of an RNA2–PNA triplex by L modification is facilitated by enhanced van der Waals contacts, base stacking, hydrogen bonding and reduced dehydration energy. The destabilization of RNA–PNA and DNA–PNA duplexes by L modification is due to the steric clash and loss of two hydrogen bonds in a Watson–Crick-like G–L pair. An RNA2–PNA triplex is significantly more stable than a DNA2–PNA triplex, probably because the RNA duplex major groove provides geometry compatibility and favorable backbone–backbone interactions with PNA. Thus, L-modified triplex-forming PNAs may be utilized for sequence-specifically targeting duplex regions in RNAs for biological and therapeutic applications.
PMCID: PMC3973316  PMID: 24423869
4.  Non-Watson–Crick interactions between PNA and DNA inhibit the ATPase activity of bacteriophage T4 Dda helicase 
Nucleic Acids Research  2002;30(4):950-957.
Peptide nucleic acid (PNA) is a DNA mimic in which the nucleobases are linked by an N-(2-aminoethyl) glycine backbone. Here we report that PNA can interact with single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) in a non-sequence-specific fashion. We observed that a 15mer PNA inhibited the ssDNA-stimulated ATPase activity of a bacteriophage T4 helicase, Dda. Surprisingly, when a fluorescein-labeled 15mer PNA was used in binding studies no interaction was observed between PNA and Dda. However, fluorescence polarization did reveal non-sequence-specific interactions between PNA and ssDNA. Thus, the inhibition of ATPase activity of Dda appears to result from depletion of the available ssDNA due to non-Watson–Crick binding of PNA to ssDNA. Inhibition of the ssDNA-stimulated ATPase activity was observed for several PNAs of varying length and sequence. To study the basis for this phenomenon, we examined self-aggregation by PNAs. The 15mer PNA readily self-aggregates to the point of precipitation. Since PNAs are hydrophobic, they aggregate more than DNA or RNA, making the study of this phenomenon essential for understanding the properties of PNA. Non-sequence-specific interactions between PNA and ssDNA were observed at moderate concentrations of PNA, suggesting that such interactions should be considered for antisense and antigene applications.
PMCID: PMC100347  PMID: 11842106
5.  Crystallographic Characterization of 12-Helical Secondary Structure in β-Peptides Containing Side Chain Groups 
Journal of the American Chemical Society  2010;132(39):13879-13885.
Helices are the most extensively studied secondary structures formed by β-peptide foldamers. Among the five known β-peptide helices, the 12-helix is particularly interesting because the internal hydrogen bond orientation and macrodipole are analogous to those of α-peptide helices (α-helix and 310-helix). The β-peptide 12-helix is defined by i, i+3 C=O…H-N backbone hydrogen bonds and promoted by β-residues with a five-membered ring constraint. The 12-helical scaffold has been used to generate β-peptides with specific biological functions, for which diverse side chains must be properly placed along the backbone and, upon folding, properly arranged in space. Only two crystal structures of 12-helical β-peptides have previously been reported, both for homooligomers of trans-2-aminocyclopentanecarboxylic acid (ACPC). Here we report five additional crystal structures of 12-helical β-peptides, all containing residues that bear side chains. Four of the crystallized β-peptides include trans-4,4-dimethyl-2-aminocyclopentanecarboxylic acid (dm-ACPC) residues, and the fifth contains a β3-hPhe residue. These five β-peptides adopt fully folded 12-helical conformations in the solid state. The new crystal structures, along with previously reported data, allow a detailed characterization of the 12-helical conformation; average backbone torsion angles of β-residues and helical parameters are derived. These structural parameters are found to be similar to those for i, i+3 C=O…H-N hydrogen-bonded helices formed by other peptide backbones generated from α- and/or βamino acids. The similarity between the conformational behavior of dm-ACPC and ACPC is consistent with previous NMR-based conclusions that 4,4-disubstituted ACPC derivatives are compatible with 12-helical folding. In addition, our data show how a β3-residue is accommodated in the 12-helix, thus enhancing understanding of the diverse conformational behavior of this flexible class of β-amino acids.
PMCID: PMC2976582  PMID: 20828159
6.  The Crystal Structure of Non-Modified and Bipyridine-Modified PNA Duplexes 
Peptide nucleic acid (PNA) is a synthetic analogue of DNA that commonly has an N-aminoethlyl-glycine backbone. The crystal structure of two PNA duplexes, one containing eight standard nucleobase pairs (GGCATCGG)2 (pdb: 3MBS), and the other containing the same nucleobase pairs and a central pair of bipyridine ligands (pdb: 3MBU), has been solved with a resolution of 1.2 Å and 1.05 Å, respectively. The non-modified PNA duplex adopts a P-type helical structure s i m i l a r t o that of previously characterized PNAs. The atomic-level resolution of the structures allowed us to observe for the first time specific modes of interaction between the terminal lysines of the PNA and the backbone and nucleobases situated in the vicinity of the lysines, which are considered an important factor in the induction of a preferred handedness in PNA duplexes. These results support the notion that while PNA typically adopts a P-type helical structure, its flexibility is relatively high. For example, the base pair rise in the bipyridine-containing PNA is the largest measured to date in a PNA homoduplex. The two bipyridines are bulged out of the duplex and are aligned parallel to the minor groove of the PNA. In the case of the bipyridine-containing PNA, two bipyridines from adjacent PNA duplexes form a π-stacked pair that relates the duplexes within the crystal. The bulging out of the bipyridines causes bending of the PNA duplex, which is in contrast to the structure previously reported for biphenyl-modified DNA duplexes in solution, where the biphenyls are π-stacking with adjacent nucleobase pairs and adopt an intrahelical geometry [Johar et al., Chem. Eur. J., 2008, 14, 2080]. This difference shows that relatively small perturbations can significantly impact the relative position of nucleobase analogues in nucleic acid duplexes.
PMCID: PMC3194003  PMID: 20859960
PNA structure; X-ray crystallography; nucleic acids; bipyridine; nucleic acid bending
7.  The PNA–DNA hybrid I-motif: implications for sugar–sugar contacts in i-motif tetramerization 
Nucleic Acids Research  2006;34(16):4354-4363.
We have created a hybrid i-motif composed of two DNA and two peptide nucleic acid (PNA) strands from an equimolar mixture of a C-rich DNA and analogous PNA sequence. Nano-electrospray ionization mass spectrometry confirmed the formation of a tetrameric species, composed of PNA–DNA heteroduplexes. Thermal denaturation and CD experiments revealed that the structure was held together by C-H+-C base pairs. High resolution NMR spectroscopy confirmed that PNA and DNA form a unique complex comprising five C-H+-C base pairs per heteroduplex. The imino protons are protected from D2O exchange suggesting intercalation of the heteroduplexes as seen in DNA4 i-motifs. FRET established the relative DNA and PNA strand polarities in the hybrid. The DNA strands were arranged antiparallel with respect to one another. The same topology was observed for PNA strands. Fluorescence quenching revealed that both PNA–DNA parallel heteroduplexes are intercalated, such that both DNA strands occupy one of the narrow grooves. H1′–H1′ NOEs show that both heteroduplexes are fully intercalated and that both DNA strands are disposed towards a narrow groove, invoking sugar–sugar interactions as seen in DNA4 i-motifs. The hybrid i-motif shows enhanced thermal stability, intermediate pH dependence and forms at relatively low concentrations making it an ideal nanoscale structural element for pH-based molecular switches. It also serves as a good model system to assess the contribution of sugar–sugar contacts in i-motif tetramerization.
PMCID: PMC1636347  PMID: 16936319
8.  DNA assembly using bis-peptide nucleic acids (bisPNAs) 
Nucleic Acids Research  2002;30(13):2782-2789.
DNA nanostructures are ordered oligonucleotide arrangements that have applications for DNA computers, crystallography, diagnostics and material sciences. Peptide nucleic acid (PNA) is a DNA/RNA mimic that offers many advantages for hybridization, but its potential for application in the field of DNA nanotechnology has yet to be thoroughly examined. We report the synthesis and characterization of tethered PNA molecules (bisPNAs) designed to assemble two individual DNA molecules through Watson–Crick base pairing. The spacer regions linking the PNAs were varied in length and contained amino acids with different electrostatic properties. We observed that bisPNAs effectively assembled oligonucleotides that were either the exact length of the PNA or that contained overhanging regions that projected outwards. In contrast, DNA assembly was much less efficient if the oligonucleotides contained overhanging regions that projected inwards. Surprisingly, the length of the spacer region between the PNA sequences did not greatly affect the efficiency of DNA assembly. Reasons for inefficient assembly of inward projecting DNA oligonucleotides include non-sequence-specific intramolecular interactions between the overhanging region of the bisPNA and steric conflicts that complicate simultaneous binding of two inward projecting strands. These results suggest that bisPNA molecules can be used for self-assembling DNA nanostructures provided that the arrangement of the hybridizing DNA oligonucleotides does not interfere with simultaneous hybridization to the bisPNA molecule.
PMCID: PMC117044  PMID: 12087161
9.  Peptide nucleic acid (PNA)/DNA hybrid duplexes: intercalation by an internally linked anthraquinone. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1998;26(3):715-720.
Peptide nucleic acids (PNA) mimic DNA and RNA by forming complementary duplex structures following Watson-Crick base pairing. A set of reporter compounds that bind to DNA by intercalation are known, but these compounds do not intercalate in PNA/DNA hybrid duplexes. Analysis of the hybrid PNA duplexes requires development of reporter compounds that probe their chemical and physical properties. We prepared a series of anthraquinone (AQ) derivatives that are linked to internal positions of a PNA oligomer. These are the first non-nucleobase functional groups that have been incorporated into a PNA. The resulting PNA(AQ) conjugates form stable hybrids with complementary DNA oligomers. We find that when the AQ groups are covalently bound to PNA that they stabilize the hybrid duplex and are, at least partially, intercalated.
PMCID: PMC147320  PMID: 9443962
10.  Characterization of the structural and protein recognition properties of hybrid PNA-DNA four-way junctions 
The objective of this study is to evaluate the structure and protein recognition properties of hybrid four-way junctions (4WJs) composed of DNA and peptide nucleic acid (PNA) strands. We compare a classic immobile DNA junction, J1, vs. six PNA-DNA junctions, including a number with blunt DNA ends and multiple PNA strands. Circular dichroism (CD) analysis reveals that hybrid 4WJs are composed of helices that possess structures intermediate between A- and B-form DNA, the apparent level of A-form structure correlates with the PNA content. The structure of hybrids that contain one PNA strand is sensitive to Mg+2. For these constructs, the apparent B-form structure and conformational stability (Tm) increase in high Mg+2. The blunt-ended junction, b4WJ-PNA3, possesses the highest B-form CD signals and Tm (40.1°C) values vs. all hybrids and J1. Protein recognition studies are carried out using the recombinant DNA-binding protein, HMGB1b. HMGB1b binds the blunt ended single-PNA hybrids, b4WJ-PNA1 and b4WJ-PNA3, with high affinity. HMGB1b binds the multi-PNA hybrids, 4WJ-PNA1,3 and b4WJ-PNA1,3, but does not form stable protein-nucleic acid complexes. Protein interactions with hybrid 4WJs are influenced by the ratio of A- to B-form helices: hybrids with helices composed of higher levels of B-form structure preferentially associate with HMGB1b.
Graphical Abstract
PMCID: PMC4852880  PMID: 26348651
Four-way junctions; peptide nucleic acids (PNAs); high mobility group proteins (HMG); A-DNA helices; B-DNA helices
11.  Peptide Nucleic Acid-Based Array for Detecting and Genotyping Human Papillomaviruses▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2009;47(6):1785-1790.
We describe a novel array for accurate and reliable genotyping of human papillomavirus (HPV) using peptide nucleic acid (PNA) probes. In order to exploit the superior hybridization properties of PNA with target HPV DNAs, we developed a novel PNA array (PANArray HPV). PANArray HPV enables the detection and genotyping of HPVs using 32 type-specific PNA capture probes for medically important HPVs. All tested HPV types showed highly unique hybridization patterns with type-specific PNA probes. PNA array results showed stable specificities and sensitivities after up to 13 months of storage at room temperature. Also, we demonstrated the superior specificity, sensitivity, and stability of PNA arrays for HPV genotyping. We compared the genotyping results of the PNA array to sequencing with MY09/11 PCR products derived from 72 clinical samples. The results showed excellent agreement between the PNA array and sequencing, except for samples reflecting multiple infections. The results from the PNA array were compared with those of type-specific PCR when discrepant results occurred owing to multiple infections. The results for the PNA array matched those of type-specific PCR in all cases. Newly developed PNA arrays show excellent specificity and sensitivity and long shelf life. Our results suggest that the PNA array represents a reliable alternative to conventional DNA arrays for HPV genotyping, as well as for diagnostics.
PMCID: PMC2691110  PMID: 19369432
12.  Hybridization of Complementary and Homologous Peptide Nucleic Acid Oligomers to a Guanine Quadruplex-Forming RNA† 
Biochemistry  2006;45(6):1745-1754.
Peptide nucleic acid (PNA) oligomers targeted to guanine quadruplex-forming RNAs can be designed in two different ways. First, complementary cytosine-rich PNAs can hybridize by formation of Watson-Crick base pairs, resulting in hybrid PNA-RNA duplexes. Second, guanine-rich homologous PNAs can hybridize by formation of G-tetrads, resulting in hybrid PNA-RNA quadruplexes. UV thermal denaturation, circular dichroism and fluorescence spectroscopy experiments were used to compare these two recognition modes and revealed 1:1 duplex formation for the complementary PNA and 2:1 (PNA2-RNA) quadruplex formation for the homologous PNA. Both hybrids were very stable and hybridization was observed at low nanomolar concentrations. Hybrid quadruplex formation was equally efficient regardless of the PNA strand polarity, indicating a lack of interaction between the loop nucleobases on the PNA and RNA strands. The implications of this finding on sequence specificity as well as methods to improve affinity are also discussed.
PMCID: PMC2518313  PMID: 16460021
13.  Detection of genetic variation using dual-labeled peptide nucleic acid (PNA) probe-based melting point analysis 
Thermal denaturation of probe-target hybrid is highly reproducible, and which makes probe melting point analysis reliable in the detection of mutations, polymorphisms and epigenetic differences in DNA. To improve resolution of these detections, we used dual-labeled (quencher and fluorescence), full base of peptide nucleic acid (PNA) probe for fluorescence probe based melting point analysis. Because of their uncharged nature and peptide bond-linked backbone, PNA probes have more favorable hybridization properties, which make a large difference in the melting temperature between specific hybridization and partial hybridization.
Here, we have shown that full base dual-labeled PNA is apt material for fluorescence probe-based melting point analysis with large difference in the melting temperature between full specific hybridization and that of partial hybridization, including insertion and deletion. In case of narrowly distributed mutations, PNA probe effectively detects three mutations in a single reaction tube with three probes. Moreover, we successfully diagnose virus analogues with amplification and melting temperature signal. Lastly, Melting temperature of PNA oligomer can be easily adjusted just by adding gamma-modified PNA probe.
The PNA probes offer advantage of improved flexibility in probe design, which could be used in various applications in mutation detection among a wide range of spectrums.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12575-015-0027-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4632671  PMID: 26539063
Peptide Nucleic Acid (PNA); Fluorescence probe-based melting point analysis; Real-time PCR; Genotyping; Mutation; Probe hybridization; Multiplex
14.  A pyrenyl-PNA probe for DNA and RNA recognition 
Artificial DNA, PNA & XNA  2010;1(2):83-89.
The design and the synthesis of a PNA oligomer containing a pyrenyl residue in the backbone were performed. PNA sequence was chosen complementary to a “G rich” target sequence involved in G-quadruplex formation. The pyrenyl unit replaced a nucleobase in the middle of the PNA through covalent linkage to the backbone by a carboxymethyl unit. A systematic study on the binding properties of this probe towards DNA and RNA complementary strands was carried out by UV and fluorescence spectroscopy. UV melting curves indicated that the PNA probe binds more tightly to RNA rather than to DNA. Thermodynamic data obtained by Van't Hoff fitting of the melting curves indicated that, in the case of RNA, a more favorable interaction occurs between the pyrenyl unit and the RNA nucleobases, leading to a very favorable enthalpic contribution.
The fluorescence analysis showed specific quenching of the pyrene emission associated to the formation of the full-match PNA-DNA or PNA-RNA duplexes. Again, this behavior was more evident in the case of RNA, consistently with the stronger interaction of the pyrenyl unit with the complementary strand. In order to study the sequence specificity of the pyrenyl-PNA probe (pyr-PNA), recognition experiments on mismatched DNA and RNA sequences were also performed.
PMCID: PMC3116571  PMID: 21686243
peptide nucleic acid; pyrene; DNA; RNA; fluorescence
15.  Probing of miniPEGγ-PNA-DNA Hybrid Duplex Stability with AFM Force Spectroscopy 
Biochemistry  2016;55(10):1523-1528.
Peptide nucleic acids (PNA) are synthetic polymers, the neutral peptide backbone of which provides elevated stability to PNA-PNA and PNA-DNA hybrid duplex. It was demonstrated that incorporation of diethylene glycol (miniPEG) at the γ position of the peptide backbone increased the thermal stability of the hybrid duplexes (Sahu, B. et al. (2011) Journal of Organic Chemistry 76, 5614-5627). Here, we applied atomic force microscopy (AFM) based single molecule force spectroscopy (SMFS) and dynamic force spectroscopy (DFS) to test the strength and stability of the hybrid 10 bp duplex. This hybrid duplex consisted of miniPEGγ-PNA and DNA of the same length (γMPPNA-DNA), which we compared to a DNA duplex with a homologous sequence. AFM force spectroscopy data obtained at the same conditions showed that γMPPNA-DNA hybrid is more stable than the DNA counterpart, 65 ± 15 pN vs 47 ± 15 pN, respectively. The DFS measurements performed in a range of pulling speeds analyzed in the framework of the Bell-Evans approach yielded a dissociation constant, koff ∼ 0.030 ± 0.01 sec-1 for γMPPNA-DNA hybrid duplex vs. 0.375 ± 0.18 sec-1 for the DNA-DNA duplex suggesting that the hybrid duplex is much more stable. Correlating the high affinity of γMPPNA-DNA to slow dissociation kinetics is consistent with prior bulk characterization by surface plasmon resonance. Given the growing interest in γMPPNA as well as other synthetic DNA analogues, the use of single molecule experiments along with computational analysis of force spectroscopy data will provide direct characterization of various modifications as well as higher order structures such as triplexes and quadruplexes.
PMCID: PMC4792705  PMID: 26898903
16.  Inhibiting Gene Expression with Peptide Nucleic Acid (PNA)–Peptide Conjugates that Target Chromosomal DNA 
Biochemistry  2007;46(25):7581-7589.
Peptide nucleic acids (PNAs) are a nonionic DNA/RNA mimic that can recognize complementary sequences by Watson–Crick base–pairing. The neutral PNA backbone facilitates recognition of duplex DNA by strand invasion, suggesting that antigene PNAs (agPNAs) can be important tools for exploring the structure and function of chromosomal DNA inside cells. However, before agPNAs can enter wide use it will be necessary to develop straightforward strategies for introducing them into cells. Here we demonstrate that agPNA–peptide conjugates can target promoter DNA and block progesterone receptor (PR) gene expression inside cells. Thirty–six agPNA–peptide conjugates were synthesized and tested. We observed inhibition of gene expression using cationic peptides containing either arginine or lysine residues, with eight or more cationic amino acids being preferred. Both thirteen and nineteen base agPNA-peptide conjugates were inhibitory. Inhibition was observed in human cancer cell lines expressing either high or low levels of progesterone receptor. Modification of agPNA–peptide conjugates with hydrophobic amino acids or small molecule hydrophobic moities yielded improved potency. Inhibition by agPNAs did not require cationic lipid or any other additive, but adding agents to cell growth media that promote endosomal release caused modest increases in agPNA potency. These data demonstrate that chromosomal DNA is accessible to agPNA–peptide conjugates and that chemical modifications can improve potency.
PMCID: PMC2564818  PMID: 17536840
17.  Efficient pH-independent sequence-specific DNA binding by pseudoisocytosine-containing bis-PNA. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1995;23(2):217-222.
The synthesis and DNA binding properties of bis-PNA (peptide nucleic acid) are reported. Two PNA segments each of seven nucleobases in length were connected in a continuous synthesis via a flexible linker composed of three 8-amino-3,6-dioxaoctanoic acid units. The sequence of the first strand was TCTCTTT (C- to N-terminal), while the second strand was TTTCTCT or TTTJTJT, where J is pseudoisocytosine. These bis-PNAs form triple-stranded complexes of somewhat higher thermal stability than monomeric PNA with complementary oligonucleotides and the thermal melting transition shows very little hysteresis. When the J base is placed in the strand parallel to the DNA complement ('Hoogsteen strand'), the DNA binding was pH independent. The bis-PNAs were also superior to monomeric PNAs for targeting double-stranded DNA by strand invasion.
PMCID: PMC306657  PMID: 7862524
18.  Subnanomolar antisense activity of phosphonate-peptide nucleic acid (PNA) conjugates delivered by cationic lipids to HeLa cells 
Nucleic Acids Research  2008;36(13):4424-4432.
In the search of facile and efficient methods for cellular delivery of peptide nucleic acids (PNA), we have synthesized PNAs conjugated to oligophosphonates via phosphonate glutamine and bis-phosphonate lysine amino acid derivatives thereby introducing up to twelve phosphonate moieties into a PNA oligomer. This modification of the PNA does not interfere with the nucleic acid target binding affinity based on thermal stability of the PNA/RNA duplexes. When delivered to cultured HeLa pLuc705 cells by Lipofectamine, the PNAs showed dose-dependent nuclear antisense activity in the nanomolar range as inferred from induced luciferase activity as a consequence of pre-mRNA splicing correction by the antisense-PNA. Antisense activity depended on the number of phosphonate moieties and the most potent hexa-bis-phosphonate-PNA showed at least 20-fold higher activity than that of an optimized PNA/DNA hetero-duplex. These results indicate that conjugation of phosphonate moieties to the PNA can dramatically improve cellular delivery mediated by cationic lipids without affecting on the binding affinity and sequence discrimination ability, exhibiting EC50 values down to one nanomolar. Thus the intracellular efficacy of PNA oligomers rival that of siRNA and the results therefore emphasize that provided sufficient in vivo bioavailability of PNA can be achieved these molecules may be developed into potent gene therapeutic drugs.
PMCID: PMC2490735  PMID: 18596083
19.  Antiproliferative effect in chronic myeloid leukaemia cells by antisense peptide nucleic acids 
Nucleic Acids Research  2002;30(17):3712-3721.
Peptide nucleic acid (PNA) is a synthetic DNA analogue that is resistant to nucleases and proteases and binds with exceptional affinity to RNA. Because of these properties PNA has the potential to become a powerful therapeutic agent to be used in vivo. Until now, however, the use of PNA in vivo has not been much investigated. Here, we have attempted to reduce the expression of the bcr/abl oncogene in chronic myeloid leukaemia KYO-1 cells using a 13mer PNA sequence (asPNA) designed to hybridise to the b2a2 junction of bcr/abl mRNA. To enhance cellular uptake asPNA was covalently linked to the basic peptide VKRKKKP (NLS-asPNA). Moreover, to investigate the cellular uptake by confocal microscopy, both PNAs were linked by their N-terminus to fluorescein (FL). Studies of uptake, carried out at 4 and 37°C on living KYO-1 cells stained with hexidium iodide, showed that both NLS-asPNA-FL and asPNA-FL were taken up by the cells, through a receptor-independent mechanism. The intracellular amount of NLS-asPNA-FL was about two to three times higher than that of asPNA-FL. Using a semi-quantitative RT– PCR technique we found that 10 µM asPNA and NLS-asPNA reduced the level of b2a2 mRNA in KYO-1 cells to 20 ± 5% and 60 ± 10% of the control, respectively. Western blot analysis showed that asPNA promoted a significant inhibition of p210BCR/ABL protein: residual protein measured in cells exposed for 48 h to asPNA was ∼35% of the control. Additionally, asPNA impaired cell growth to 50 ± 5% of the control and inhibited completion of the cell cycle. In summary, these results demonstrate that a PNA 13mer is taken up by KYO-1 cells and is capable of producing a significant and specific down-regulation of the bcr/abl oncogene involved in leukaemogenesis.
PMCID: PMC137404  PMID: 12202756
20.  Design of (Gd-DO3A)n-Polydiamidopropanoyl-Peptide Nucleic Acid-d(Cys-Ser-Lys-Cys) Magnetic Resonance Contrast Agents 
Biopolymers  2008;89(12):1061-1076.
We hypothesized that chelating Gd(III) to 1,4,7-tris(carboxymethylaza)cyclododecane-10-azaacetylamide (DO3A) on peptide nucleic acid (PNA) hybridization probes would provide a magnetic resonance genetic imaging agent capable of hybridization to a specific mRNA. Because of the low sensitivity of Gd(III) as an magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast agent, a single Gd-DO3A complex per PNA hybridization agent could not provide enough contrast for detection of cancer gene mRNAs, even at thousands of mRNA copies per cell. To increase the Gd(III) shift intensity of MRI genetic imaging agents, we extended a novel DO3An-polydiamidopropanoyl (PDAPm) dendrimer, up to n = 16, from the N-terminus of KRAS PNA hybridization agents by solid phase synthesis. A C-terminal d(Cys-Ser-Lys-Cys) cyclized peptide analog of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1) was included to enable receptor-mediated cellular uptake. Molecular dynamic simulation of the (Gd-DO3A-AEEA)16-PDAP4-AEEA2-KRAS PNA-AEEA-d(Cys-Ser-Lys-Cys) genetic imaging nanoparticles in explicit water yielded a pair correlation function similar to that of PAMAM dendrimers, and a predicted structure in which the PDAP dendron did not sequester the PNA. Thermal melting measurements indicated that the size of the PDAP dendron included in the (DO3A-AEEA)n-PDAPm-AEEA2-KRAS PNA-AEEA-d(Cys-Ser-Lys-Cys) probes (up to 16 Gd(III) cations per PNA) did not depress the melting temperatures (Tm) of the complementary PNA/RNA hybrid duplexes. The Gd(III) dendrimer PNA genetic imaging agents in phantom solutions displayed significantly greater T1 relaxivity per probe (r1 = 30.64 ± 2.68 mM-1 s-1 for n = 2, r1 = 153.84 ± 11.28 mM-1 s-1 for n = 8) than Gd-DTPA (r1 = 10.35 ± 0.37 mM-1 s-1), but less than that of (Gd-DO3A)32-PAMAM dendrimer (r1 = 771.84 ± 20.48 mM-1 s-1) (P < 0.05). Higher generations of PDAP dendrimers with 32 or more Gd-DO3A residues attached to PNA-d(Cys-Ser-Lys-Cys) genetic imaging agents might provide greater contrast for more sensitive detection.
PMCID: PMC2668199  PMID: 18680101
chelator; dendrimer; hybridization; molecular imaging; noninvasive; oncogene; receptor; solid phase synthesis
21.  Evaluating the Effect of Ionic Strength on Duplex Stability for PNA Having Negatively or Positively Charged Side Chains 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e58670.
The enhanced thermodynamic stability of PNA:DNA and PNA:RNA duplexes compared with DNA:DNA and DNA:RNA duplexes has been attributed in part to the lack of electrostatic repulsion between the uncharged PNA backbone and negatively charged DNA or RNA backbone. However, there are no previously reported studies that systematically evaluate the effect of ionic strength on duplex stability for PNA having a charged backbone. Here we investigate the role of charge repulsion in PNA binding by synthesizing PNA strands having negatively or positively charged side chains, then measuring their duplex stability with DNA or RNA at varying salt concentrations. At low salt concentrations, positively charged PNA binds more strongly to DNA and RNA than does negatively charged PNA. However, at medium to high salt concentrations, this trend is reversed, and negatively charged PNA shows higher affinity for DNA and RNA than does positively charged PNA. These results show that charge screening by counterions in solution enables negatively charged side chains to be incorporated into the PNA backbone without reducing duplex stability with DNA and RNA. This research provides new insight into the role of electrostatics in PNA binding, and demonstrates that introduction of negatively charged side chains is not significantly detrimental to PNA binding affinity at physiological ionic strength. The ability to incorporate negative charge without sacrificing binding affinity is anticipated to enable the development of PNA therapeutics that take advantage of both the inherent benefits of PNA and the multitude of charge-based delivery technologies currently being developed for DNA and RNA.
PMCID: PMC3590165  PMID: 23484047
22.  Effects of Hypoxanthine Substitution in Peptide Nucleic Acids Targeting KRAS2 Oncogenic mRNA Molecules: Theory and Experiment 
The journal of physical chemistry. B  2013;117(39):11584-11595.
Genetic disorders can arise from single base substitutions in a single gene. A single base substitution for wild type guanine in the twelfth codon of KRAS2 mRNA occurs frequently to initiate lung, pancreatic, and colon cancer. We have observed single base mismatch specificity in radioimaging of mutant KRAS2 mRNA in tumors in mice by in vivo hybridization with radiolabeled peptide nucleic acid (PNA) dodecamers. We hypothesized that multi-mutant specificity could be achieved with a PNA dodecamer incorporating hypoxanthine, which can form Watson-Crick basepairs with adenine, cytosine, thymine, and uracil. Using molecular dynamics simulations and free energy calculations, we show that hypoxanthine substitutions in PNAs are tolerated in KRAS2 RNA-PNA duplexes where wild type guanine is replaced by mutant uracil or adenine in RNA. To validate our predictions, we synthesized PNA dodecamers with hypoxanthine, and then measured the thermal stability of RNA-PNA duplexes. Circular dichroism thermal melting results showed that hypoxanthine-containing PNAs are more stable in duplexes where hypoxanthine-adenine and hypoxanthine-uracil base pairs are formed than single mismatch duplexes or duplexes containing hypoxanthine-guanine opposition.
PMCID: PMC3946533  PMID: 23972113
hypoxanthine; oligonucleotides; peptide nucleic acid; accelerated molecular dynamics; KRAS2
23.  Chiral introduction of positive charges to PNA for double-duplex invasion to versatile sequences 
Nucleic Acids Research  2008;36(5):1464-1471.
Invasion of two PNA strands to double-stranded DNA is one of the most promising methods to recognize a predetermined site in double-stranded DNA (PNA = peptide nucleic acid). In order to facilitate this ‘double-duplex invasion’, a new type of PNA was prepared by using chiral PNA monomers in which a nucleobase was bound to the α-nitrogen of N-(2-aminoethyl)-d-lysine. These positively charged monomer units, introduced to defined positions in Nielsen's PNAs (poly[N-(2-aminoethyl)glycine] derivatives), promoted the invasion without impairing mismatch-recognizing activity. When pseudo-complementary nucleobases 2,6-diaminopurine and 2-thiouracil were bound to N-(2-aminoethyl)-d-lysine, the invasion successfully occurred even at highly G–C-rich regions [e.g. (G/C)7(A/T)3 and (G/C)8(A/T)2] which were otherwise hardly targeted. Thus, the scope of sequences available as the target site has been greatly expanded. In contrast with the promotion by the chiral PNA monomers derived from N-(2-aminoethyl)-d-lysine, their l-isomers hardly invaded, showing crucial importance of the d-chirality. The promotion of double-duplex invasion by the chiral (d) PNA monomer units was ascribed to both destabilization of PNA/PNA duplex and stabilization of PNA/DNA duplexes.
PMCID: PMC2275137  PMID: 18203747
24.  End invasion of peptide nucleic acids (PNAs) with mixed-base composition into linear DNA duplexes 
Nucleic Acids Research  2005;33(17):e146.
Peptide nucleic acid (PNA) is a synthetic DNA mimic with valuable properties and a rapidly growing scope of applications. With the exception of recently introduced pseudocomplementary PNAs, binding of common PNA oligomers to target sites located inside linear double-stranded DNAs (dsDNAs) is essentially restricted to homopurine–homopyrimidine sequence motifs, which significantly hampers some of the PNA applications. Here, we suggest an approach to bypass this limitation of common PNAs. We demonstrate that PNA with mixed composition of ordinary nucleobases is capable of sequence-specific targeting of complementary dsDNA sites if they are located at the very termini of DNA duplex. We then show that such targeting makes it possible to perform capturing of designated dsDNA fragments via the DNA-bound biotinylated PNA as well as to signal the presence of a specific dsDNA sequence, in the case a PNA beacon is employed. We also examine the PNA–DNA conjugate and prove that it can initiate the primer-extension reaction starting from the duplex DNA termini when a DNA polymerase with the strand-displacement ability is used. We thus conclude that recognition of duplex DNA by mixed-base PNAs via the end invasion has a promising potential for site-specific and sequence-unrestricted DNA manipulation and detection.
PMCID: PMC1243805  PMID: 16204449
25.  In Situ Synthesis of Peptide Nucleic Acids in Porous Silicon for Drug Delivery and Biosensing 
Bioconjugate Chemistry  2014;25(7):1192-1197.
Peptide nucleic acids (PNA) are a unique class of synthetic molecules that have a peptide backbone and can hybridize with nucleic acids. Here, a versatile method has been developed for the automated, in situ synthesis of PNA from a porous silicon (PSi) substrate for applications in gene therapy and biosensing. Nondestructive optical measurements were performed to monitor single base additions of PNA initiated from (3-aminopropyl)triethoxysilane attached to the surface of PSi films, and mass spectrometry was conducted to verify synthesis of the desired sequence. Comparison of in situ synthesis to postsynthesis surface conjugation of the full PNA molecules showed that surface mediated, in situ PNA synthesis increased loading 8-fold. For therapeutic proof-of-concept, controlled PNA release from PSi films was characterized in phosphate buffered saline, and PSi nanoparticles fabricated from PSi films containing in situ grown PNA complementary to micro-RNA (miR) 122 generated significant anti-miR activity in a Huh7 psiCHECK-miR122 cell line. The applicability of this platform for biosensing was also demonstrated using optical measurements that indicated selective hybridization of complementary DNA target molecules to PNA synthesized in situ on PSi films. These collective data confirm that we have established a novel PNA–PSi platform with broad utility in drug delivery and biosensing.
PMCID: PMC4103755  PMID: 24949894

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